Putting the Lie to Rest

leather bound journal with calligraphy pen, by Curt Fleenor

Leather Bound Journal with Calligraphy Pen by Curt Fleenor is licensed under (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  2 Cor 10:5 (NIV)

I look at my journal, that precious place where God and I meet, and I see a great, big “SHOULD” button flashing in my brain.  I try to pick up my pen, but I can’t start to write.  Shaking my head, I drop the pen back on the desk and push away the journal.  “No,” my insides shout, “not now,” so I sigh and turn to face the lush green woods outside my office window.  Something tight, something heavy, blocks my wonder, my creativity, my productivity;  I can’t even finish the simplest of tasks.  I can almost feel a physical grip on my heart.

“Oh, just do it,” my earnest evangelical friend (whose voice resides firmly in my head) exhorts.  “Don’t think and introspect;  Only start, and the rest will follow.”

Fair enough.  Plenty of times, my mountain is moved by small ant-sized accomplishments.   But this is not one of those times.  I know myself.  This lack of rest, driven busyness, and restless non-work are not driven by a lack of will.  Gutting it out may work as a short term prod, but never as a long-term solution.

“Ah,” my charismatic friend might say, “Your symptoms scream ‘enemy’!  His hallmarks, right there, holding you back!  Pray against that stronghold!”

Maybe.  In truth he is undoubtedly at work.  But that’s not where to start, not by a long shot.  Instead, I think about my reactions: my busyness, the piles of work I can’t complete, the immobilization that halts my every start.  The busyness isn’t my enemy—it’s just a coping mechanism.

What really lies at the heart?

Lurking beneath my roadblocks are usually deeper issues—reasons I don’t stop, or don’t rest, or can’t accomplish.  Unearthing those reasons will free me to move forward—or step back—intentionally.

Ironically, pondering will have to lead to journaling, that thing I don’t want to do because I’m afraid of what I will find.  Yes, that’s one block:  I’m afraid to rest and find out what’s lurking because I surely won’t like my own sin, or the sin done against me. Perhaps I won’t like the solution, either.  Can I trust that the word the Lord speaks will heal and not destroy.  Another block, surely.

But underneath is yet another lie. A bigger one, sucking me dry.  I know it’s there, and I know the process:  find the lie, discover where it came from, and pray for healing.  Listen to what the Lord says, and feel His presence changing my perspective surrounding its birth. He pours grace and peace over the still-throbbing ulcer and the pain subsides.  He heals the wound and changes my heart, and my body and soul return to rest.  Gladly.

I don’t know what it is yet.  I can’t tell you what the offending lie is, nor where it came from.  But I promise you this:  I will not rest, cannot rest, until it is found.  Jesus and I…  we will find that thing that chokes me, and Jesus will dissolve it.

And so I’m off on a lie-hunt.    And what about you?  Do you hunt, too?

Let’s hunt together, you and I. We all have those callouses of long-forgotten lies, built up to protect our vulnerable hearts.   Now they hurt instead, keeping us from all that Jesus brings: healing, restoration, and rest.

Can we join forces here?  What are the lies that hold you back?  What healing will free you and destroy them?

 

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The Knife Edge

image courtesy photobucket

image courtesy photobucket

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Rom 12:15

 I shook my head, lips tight in frustration, and stared through the wood to the pond beyond. “Why?” I blurted to my husband. “Why are there always two camps who can’t see the other side?”

My heart split down the middle, aching, yearning for my friends to know the truth I’d long since grabbed: healing was a paradox, neither guaranteed nor evasive. Stuck between two factions, I watched my friends battle for their lives, neither side willing to cede territory. Neither camp, it seemed, had theological or emotional space for the other.

One group could not abide the thought of suffering, of Jesus not healing. The other shuddered at the presumption of expecting healing to occur. I stood in the metaphorical middle. Batted between two extremes, my heart was the little white ball in a ping-pong match, but the stakes were cruelly high and the game to be won or lost was life itself.

I was a sideline sitter but I was not objective. One friend died while her friends applied Scripture like a band-aid, commanding healing. Another lived a tormented life while her praying friends would only listen and comfort, afraid of the audacious presumption that healing was available on more than a miraculous once-in-a-lifetime basis.

No stranger to healing, I’d seen major illnesses cured, injuries mended and splints thrown away. I’d also grieved at too-early funerals and ranted at God when chronic illnesses didn’t relent. I could live with any outcome, but I couldn’t live with arrogant resistance. The extremes threatened sanity and dignity and I could not fall off into either camp, but I couldn’t straddle the knife edge in the middle, either.

The knife edge. My husband told me about his teenage climbing adventures on the Knife Edge at Mt. Katahdin. Aptly named and just three feet wide for about three tenths of a mile, the high rocky ridge fell off into cliffs on both sides. One could only traverse this summit trail with three out of four hands and feet touching the ground. I couldn’t imagine climbing, or even crawling, that great divide. Yet here I was, balanced on just as precarious a middle point.

The charismatics couldn’t fathom that Jesus sits and grieves with us in our pain; but the evangelicals wouldn’t understand that Jesus often heals, and we participate in the process. My conflicted heart burst out in words. “What do I DO, God?”

“Be the answer,” Jesus whispered, nudging my intuition

But “Be the answer” meant “be uncomfortable.” “Be the answer” meant going against the grain no matter what camp I was in. It meant praying for healing – or commanding it, if that’s what the Lord showed me to do – in a most unwelcoming environment. It also meant suffering and weeping with the unhealed ones while their friends walked away, shaking their heads at our lack of faith. And worse yet, it meant watching and grieving as needy hurting Christians, expecting miracles of healing, had to walk out a process of learning emotional maturity instead of claiming victory.

No, this was not an answer I liked.

It was, however, the answer I got. I wasn’t sure I’d ever see the two groups move closer. And change might or might not happen. However, it was the way the Lord walked between the timid and the presumptuous, the passive and the arrogant, the uninterested and the taunting. He was always in the middle. Why did I expect to rest comfortably in one camp?

 

And so I climbed back up on the knife-edge, imagining my two feet and one hand holding me steady, the other arm reaching up to Jesus, and both ears and one heart listening for His opportunities. Who knows what small prayer or comforting hug might bring change to one or the other of the battling armies? It was worth the effort, if even one warrior climbed up on the knife edge to ask “is there another way?”

And you? Where are you on this mountain of change? Would you join a friend on the knife-edge, balancing in the middle?

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Immanuel: God With Us

image courtesy david bowman davidbowmanart.com

“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:22-23, quoting Isaiah 7:14

He comes.
And He stays with us.
Not as a visitor some cold Christmas Eve in a feed-trough of hay.
But as a Friend near to our arms and hearts,
Sitting beside us by the fire,
A fire of homeless night finger-warming,
Or a fire of granite-hearth living space,
He comes and stays,
Sharing our joys and our pains,
Our homelessness and our nestled-ness.
He comes and delights in us,
He comes to share with us,
He comes to listen,
He comes to impart.

He loves,
He encourages,
He welcomes,
He comforts.
And He stays,
Near,
Arm-around-our-shoulders close.

He is here.

In our fear,
In our hope;
In our desperation,
In our delight;
In our despair,
In our overcoming;
In our suffering,
In our exultation;
In our so-near-we-can-feel-His-heartbeat,
In our so-cold-our-fingertips-and-hearts-are-numb.

In our bitter memories,
In our best imaginations.

In our days of chemo,
In our days of promotion;
In our days of foreclosure,
In our days of dreams-come-true;
In our days of dark almost-dying,
In our days of magical wonder.

In our nights of longing,
In our nights of dreaming;
In our nights of babes in pain,
In our nights of overjoy.

He comes.
He stays.
He calls.
He heals.
He holds.
He understands.
He strengthens.
He redeems.
He celebrates.

Above all,
He comes and does not leave.
Ever.
Forever.

Immanuel,
God with us.
Finally.
Forever.

Blessed Christmas-tide-and-forever friend,
Welcome, Jesus.
And thank You.

Merry Christmas!
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